I’ll never forget the exact moment I heard that Leonardo DiCaprio allegedly likes to wear headphones during sex. It was at a backyard wine bar with a friend in June, our first meal together since quarantine, and instead of catching up on, you know, our own lives, we were in deep conversation over Leo’s bedroom behavior. She’d seen the rumor on DeuxMoi, an Instagram account that collects and dishes out celebrity gossip from its followers. I stared at her blankly. “Wait,” she said in true shock, “You don’t know about DeuxMoi?”
What Comments By Celebs was to 2019, DeuxMoi is to 2020—which is to say it’s the year’s most addictive social media phenomenon. Earlier this month, the account was flooded with tips on the supposed reasons Carl Lentz, Justin Bieber’s pastor, left Hillsong church—some speculated infidelity—and they were one of the first to publish the celeb church’s letter addressing his departure. (For the record, DeuxMoi’s followers were right; it was an affair, Lentz later confirmed.) The account even waded into politics recently, posting a tip on the Wednesday after the election that claimed Joe Biden had already won Nevada but the secretary of state wasn’t announcing it because she’s a Republican. For the record, that one remains unproven and was presumably false, but keep in mind, the message ended with: “START CHILLIN THE CHAMPAGNE BITCHES!!!” (And Biden did end up winning Nevada.)
By now, “I saw it on DeuxMoi” is a common refrain in casual conversation, and its 353K followers speak in DeuxMoi catchphrases: “Chris Noth Trigger Warning” is code for taking a celeb’s picture without their permission (inspired by photos of the Sex and the City actor while out and about; apparently Noth doesn’t love when you snap his pic from afar), and “VPD”, which appears quite often, and stands for Very Pretty D*ck (often used by those who claim to have been intimate with a star).
Some celebs have their own nicknames: “Headphone Dino Bones” is DiCaprio, because, well, in addition to the aforementioned sex headphones, he apparently also collects dinosaur bones. “Cries a Lot” is Anne Hathaway, who readers claim is often sobbing in the street. “STT” stands for Save the Turtles, a reference to eco-warrior Adrien Grenier. (For the record, DeuxMoi followers also say he has a VPD.)
Here’s how it works: Tipsters, many who claim to be Hollywood assistants, friends of friends, publicists, nannies, flight attendants, drivers, and maybe even celebrities themselves, divulge their insider info to DeuxMoi via direct message or email. To protect their identities (and non-disclosure agreements) they begin their tips with the request “Anon please” before launching into what they know—things like JLo’s Carbone order (obviously the spicy rigatoni and veal parmesan) and whether or not the Hadid sisters live up to their super-duper nice reputation. (Rumor has it: They do!)
Over time, the tips have become more prescient, rippling out into the tabloid universe. For instance, DeuxMoi has it on good authority that James Corden is destined to be called out for his bad behavior a la Ellen Degeneres. She knew about Beyonce’s British Vogue cover two weeks in advance of its release. And DeuxMoi also speculated about Emily Ratajowski’s pregnancy weeks before it was made public.
Everything DeuxMoi posts is unverified, which, for some, could be problematic especially in the age of QAnon and “fake news.” For others, it’s delicious entertainment and a cure for quarantine restlessness. “I don’t care at all if it’s untrue,” says a friend who works in fashion. “It’s still so fun.” A New York City-based talent booker told me it’s the first thing he checks in the morning, and the last thing he checks at night.
DeuxMoi is the very 2020 iteration of celebrity gossip columnists who have garnered a loyal audience—think New York Daily News’ Liz Smith, Page Six’s Cindy Adams, even Perez Hilton and The Shade Room. But unlike her predecessors, DeuxMoi remains anonymous. What I can confirm is that she identifies as a woman. But for lots of reasons, only some of them legal, she will not, under any circumstances, tell me who she is. Trust me, I tried. “I like to keep my private life private,” she says. “I’m not that interesting, to be honest. What goes on with the account is super fucking interesting, but I’m not. I’m just managing it.”
On a phone call last month, I discerned a few details that paint a picture of what she might be like—she has a distinct East Coast accent, and her 917 area code suggests she lives in New York City. She says she has a full-time non-Hollywood job, which is why she often posts at night. Some of her coworkers know about the account, but she didn’t make any of them sign an NDA because she trusts them.
Posting other people’s celebrity encounters is her hobby. She began in 2013. Spurred by a teenage love for the banal details of celebrity life—from their coffee orders to their favorite brand of sneakers—she and a friend bought the url DeuxMoi.com to create a lifestyle and fashion website where they would interview stylish people and write shopping guides. The name, DeuxMoi, was totally made up (an inside joke between the founders, but she says it might identify them if she explained it), and the tagline of the site was “Curators of style.” To promote the blog, the friends opened a corresponding Instagram account. Then, a few years later, as most “We should start a blog!” plans go, the site fizzled when they couldn’t keep up with it and their full-time jobs.
But even though the main page was gone, the woman behind DeuxMoi as we know it today went solo and kept the Instagram account, occasionally reposting celeb gossip from Just Jared and Crazy Days and Nights, a popular blind-item site. She also changed DeuxMoi’s tagline to “Curators of pop culture.”
On March 18, just as America was shutting down to stop the spread of Covid-19, DeuxMoi asked her followers, which at time numbered 45k strong, to send her celebrity gossip. “I was trying to distract myself from the world that was crumbling outside, and people were home and bored,” she says. That night, she posted her first piece of original content: A tip from a reader about Leonardo DiCaprio. The post took off immediately, and more readers chimed in with their supposed intel. “It just came very organically,” she says. “They were just thirsty for anything new.” Today, the account has more than 360k followers and she regularly nets a couple hundred DMs a day. Some days, she gets as many as 500 tips; she has a meticulous filling system for organizing all of them.
Even though readers have pointed out the account’s inaccuracies, like the time someone submitted a photo of a Hailey Bieber dining in New York City (other readers corrected her; it was a lookalike), DeuxMoi is more than a distraction—it’s quickly become a source for entertainment reporters, whether she likes it or not. Last month, The Cut covered JLo’s alleged beauty rider—a list of 90 products she demands for events and appearances—and credited DeuxMoi as their source. “There are certain news media outlets that are fucking awesome and they’ve reached out to me,” DeuxMoi says.
But other outlets have cribbed her tips without crediting her, like when a “very random and really old” story about Olivia Munn and Chris Pine dating broke on DeuxMoi and then on another popular Instagram account the next day with no mention of where the story had originated. “And then there are other outlets that are lurkers,” she says. “First of all, none of my information is verified research. Number two, if you want to speak to a source or want more information about something I posted, just ask me.” It’s not about her own pride, she says, it’s about her sources. Or as she puts it: “Acknowledge the people who were brave enough to write in that shit.”
On DeuxMoi, no celebrity is untouchable—though she did take down a post revealing Sasha and Malia Obama’s supposed finstas out of respect for their privacy. I ask if she’s concerned at all about whether or not the tips she shares are true. “No, not in the least bit, for one split second, do I feel one iota of responsibility to be accurate,” she says. “I am a private account. I’m not verified. So I don’t know why people trust what I’m saying. I think about it all the time. Like these people don’t even know who the fuck I am and they’re like sending me in their secrets and breaking their NDAs. But also, I take it very, very seriously. I never reveal a source or go back on my word if I’m asked not to post something. I guess that vibe shines through somehow, because people keep spilling their guts.”
Where it gets complicated is when she hears about bad behavior from stars she likes. This spring, unflattering stories about actress Leslie Mann’s shopping habits—mostly from boutique salespeople writing in that she was rude to them—started to surface. “Every time I would read one, I would be bummed,” she says. She posted them anyway. Eventually, DeuxMoi got a DM that said, “Leslie Mann knows about this account.” I ask her what she would do if Mann herself ever reached out to say the posts hurt her feelings. Would she reconsider posting anything that put Mann in a negative light? “I’m a big fucking softie,” she says after thinking about it for a second. “So, I would. But I wouldn’t do that for everyone. It’s a case-by-case basis.”
DeuxMoi accepts almost everyone who asks for a follow, and has never refused a request from a celebrity or publicist (in fact, the Hadid sisters follow the account), but she said she has delayed a few. “I would call my friends and be like, ‘Should I let this person in? Do you think they’ll be cool about what’s posted?’ And my friends would always say ‘Yes, just accept.’”
Part of the reason that DeuxMoi wishes to remain anonymous is that she has no desire to be a star. “It’s never been about me,” she says. “I never say I’m an expert. That’s why I try to remind people that this is a curation of what’s happening. The account is like a weird social experiment in seeing how an online community comes together.” When she posts about a celebs coffee order, baristas chime in. When the topic is airplanes, flight attendants send in their celebrity tales. Recently, a reader wrote about seeing Justin Bieber at a restaurant three years ago. Hours later, another reader, unrelated to the first, produced a photo from that exact same night.
Eventually, DeuxMoi wants to create a paid platform with exclusive info for subscribers, and she’s even thought about creating merch. (I, for one, would 100 percent buy a hat with Chris Noth Trigger Warning written on it.) “As a pipe dream, I would love to make this full time, but I’m just not that type of person that would quit my job to run an Instagram account,” she says. “I’m happy to provide entertainment for as long as I’m physically and mentally capable. Because people, whether they love it or hate it, have become addicted to seeing what’s popping up, ya know?” But if they’d actually be willing to pay for their salacious gossip is still unknown. Anyone got a good source?
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